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Over 1,000 Toxic Ingredients Banned in Europe But Not in US?


  1. Please do not publish misleading information. Please understand the difference between a ban, a restriction and a standard.
    Also understand that product in the United States must not be misbranded, adulterated, and must have their safety substantiated per Federal Law. That is pretty strong and pretty broad.

    Of course any company has the right to choose to use or not to use any substance or to set an internal ingredient policy as long as they meet the appropriate regulations, laws, rules and statures for the market in which they sell.

    My own opinion, is a list may be helpful in determining some substances to avois, but the goal is to have a safe product, not to meet a list. There will always be something missing from that list. For example cocaine and heroin are not on the EU annexes as far as I can tell. The list is the law in the EU and other places, but not as much the be all end all as some seem to make it. Safety assessment and product stewardship and caring about product integrity is what is important.

    1. Hi Harvey,
      That’s a great point! At the end of the day, having the safest, most effective product is definitely the goal. We tend to ask “what are the best possible ingredients we can add to this formula,” rather than asking “which ingredients are on a banned list so we don’t use them.” Every country has different standards and even within a single country, standards change by state/region and over time. We’re so thankful you pointed that out. Integrity IS what’s important.

  2. If you read the actual list of banned ingredients you’ll see some really bizarre ones on there and multiple types of fuel, like hundreds of variations, so the majority are chemicals one wouldn’t even consider putting in a formulation. Also, Parabens are not banned in the EU.

    1. Yes I agree and fuel type ingredients like petroleum are actually the source of many different ingredients used in cosmetics, such as mineral oil and different lip products.

  3. Recently, i found quite some EU personal care products have parfum (perfume) in them, and it’s not made clear whether it’s from natural plants or it’s artificial chemical. One product sample did smell like having the chemical perfume. The products i checked were all from VIVANESS, a natural cosmetics show in conjunction with BIOFACH – organic products show. Parfum is rated 8 on EWG.

    I wonder why?

    1. Hi Celia, Usually if the ingredient list reads “parfum” or “perfume” it is a synthetic ingredient. It is chemical perfume, not naturally derived. If it is essential oils, they will usually state it as such or say something about it being botanical. I hope that helps.

    2. Hi Celia, sorry but I am seriously confused here. I live in the UK, at present still bound by EU rules, and am not aware that these toxins have been banned – I truly wish they were. I spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to source safe, affordable cosmetic items free from these nasties with limited success. I find parabens, talc and parfum or fragrances particularly difficult to avoid in makeup, driving me to distraction. I am aware that there are differences between banned substances in the USA and the EU but I suspect that, when it comes to the cosmetics industry, we are not as clean as you think we are. As I understand it, some individual countries within the EU do choose to ban some of these potentially toxic substances but not because it is an EU requirement, rather they are forward-thinking countries who actually care about the welfare of their citizens. Unfortunately, the UK isn’t one of them so I sympathise with your dilemma.

  4. Thank you so much for this information, I am interested in creating an all natural cosmetic for women of color.

  5. I’ve been searching and searching and can’t find the answer to this question. A lot of MAC cosmetics contain talc which I understand to be banned in the EU (and rightfully so)….but how is MAC still able to sell their products which contain talc in Europe? Is there some sort of loop hole?

    1. Hi Ashley, That is a good question. Im not sure if there is a loophole or not, however I do know that some brands just have different ingredients in different countries. But with MAC there is nothing natural about their ingredients, so they are likely just not a good choice anywhere if you are looking to move to natural products. They are owned by the Estee Lauder conglomerate and from what I understand also test on animals. I hope this helps.

    1. Hi Lissette, There are several brands, including Beauty by Earth that have clean ingredients. Each product ingredients should be reviewed to ensure that there is nothing toxic in it. The EWG Skin Deep database can also help you with rating individual ingredients based on their toxicity levels. I hope this helps.

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